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Small Sensors Spell Opportunity for H2Scan

There are about 14 ways that a power transformer can fail and the common factor in all of them is that the amount of hydrogen increases. That is good news for H2Scan, a Valencia company that manufactures sensors that measure the amount of hydrogen in the oil inside transformers used by utilities, petrochemical companies and nuclear power plants. “That’s why they say hydrogen is the most critical gas you can monitor in a transformer,” said Chief Executive Dennis Reid. “It is the best early warning detection,” added Matthew Phillipps, an engineering manager and transformer product manager at the company. Starting later this year, H2Scan will begin to sell its fifth-generation sensor. It will be smaller and less expensive than previous sensors and will help the company capture more of a market that runs in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Prototypes of the Gen 5 system have been given to some of the largest transformer manufacturers in the world for testing and validation. Low-volume production will begin in the Valencia plant in the spring, with higher volumes to be outsourced to a manufacturing partner starting in the summer, Reid said. The new sensor is 5.7 inches long and 1.57 inches wide, weighs a pound and is capable of measuring hydrogen up to 105 degrees. It has its own power supply, can sustain up to 300 pounds of weight in the event it gets stepped on and is marine certified to be submersible to 3 meters for 14 days. About a year ago, the company sent out on a mission of taking its control electronics for the sensor and putting it onto an application-specific integrated circuit, or ASIC. That is a circuit customized for a particular use rather than intended for general use. Using an ASIC allowed H2Scan to shrink its circuit boards. “That not only decreased the size of the package but also the reduced the cost of that system by about 80 percent,” Reid said. “We have something that can be put on the distribution transformers at large volume at a price target of less than $1,000. Our end goal is to decrease the price to as little as $500.” H2Scan plans to target the market segment of smaller transformers that cost about $500,000. Utility companies do not typically buy monitoring sensors for them, because the monitors cost from $8,000 to $40,000, Reid said. The utilities prefer to allow the transformer to stop working and then replace it, he added. The new smaller sensor gives H2Scan visibility with the utilities with technology not offered by competitors. “There is no competition for that small device,” Reid said. “We are the only company that can offer a cost-effective solution for online monitoring of distribution transformers.” Patent for Router AireSpring, a managed network and information technology provider, has received a patent for a method of rerouting toll-free phone calls. The patent granted last month from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office reinforces the Van Nuys company’s standing as a leader in the toll-free category as well as a leading provider of managed services to multi-location, mid-market and large North American enterprises. The patented technology provides a way to automatically reroute a toll-free call if an interexchange carrier is unable to connect it to the original targeted station. The inventor of the process is Arno Vigen, chief financial officer at AireSpring, who has 12 pending patents, ranging from nanotechnology and energy to chemical engineering and software. Chief Executive Avi Lonstein said the company receiving its first patent represents its committed position and deep history of innovation in toll-free telephony. “AireSpring has long relied on the expertise of our in-house team of dedicated professionals who are original thinkers, inventors and engineers, driven to create value for our partners and customers, as we evolve and grow to meet the future technological demands of the industry,” Lonstein said in a statement. Quality Hire Federal Defense Industries has hired Liz Ferguson to serve in two roles – as assistant to the vice president and as quality administrator. The Moorpark company supplies spare and replacement parts and consumables for equipment used by Army, Navy and Air Force programs worldwide. As assistant to the vice president, Philip Ochoa, Ferguson is responsible for managing Ochoa’s schedule and monitoring emails. In her role as quality administrator, she will support Frank Rosales, the quality manager, by verifying that quality manual, guidance documents and quality-rated forms are all updated and renewed on a consistent basis, as well as updating spreadsheets. Ferguson has completed training to conduct internal audits. “We are fortunate to have Miss Ferguson join our team. She is organized and likes to be challenged,” said President Sharyn Ochoa in a statement. Staff Reporter Mark R. Madler can be reached at (818) 316-3126 or mmadler@sfvbj.com.

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
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